In a healthy person, immune cells are highly effective at protecting our bodies from foreign pathogens. However, the immune system is not as effective at controlling cancer cells because these cells are mostly recognized as self and frequently escape immune surveillance. In instances where T cells mount an immune response against cancer antigens, the tumor-infiltrating T cells are frequently kept in check by immune-suppressive pathways activated by the tumours. We use a variety of innovative proprietary technologies and platforms to address these problems and manufacture gene-modified immune cell products that are optimized for the elimination of cancer cells.
- Our Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) technology makes it possible to modify a subset of T cells called NKT cells to target cell surface molecules expressed on tumours.
- Our Dominant T cell receptor (TCR) technology makes it possible to achieve high levels of expression of optimized T cell receptors on the surface of modified T cells. The expressed TCRs recognize antigens from proteins expressed in any cell compartments, including intracellular proteins, which are not accessible to CARs.
- We are using our PENTRA® Antibody technology to generate both CARs and immune-modulatory molecules that can be expressed on CAR- or TCR-engineered immune cells. These immuno-modulators can be secreted or expressed on the surface of the engineered immune cells to help them overcome the suppressive microenvironment of solid tumours and become more potent therapeutic agents.
- Our NKT cell platform focuses on the use of a subset of T cells called Natural Killer T (NKT) cells. NKT cells express a semi-invariant TCR that responds to CD1d-restricted glycolipid ligands. Since these ligands are conserved among humans, NKT cells do not mediate GVHD making them ideal candidates for off-the-shelf adoptive cell therapy. We are exploring the use of CAR-engineered NKT cells to treat cancer patients using either their own NKT cells (autologous setting) or NKT cells derived from healthy donors (allogeneic setting) as an off-the-shelf engineered CAR cell product.
The use of both the CAR and TCR platforms allow us to target virtually any cancer antigen regardless if they derived from proteins expressed on the cell surface (CAR approach) or inside the cell (TCR approach).